Make Summer a Special Time!

If you have children in private school, then you are most likely looking at three months, perhaps even longer, which you must fill with activities of one kind or another during the long summer break. Your children are accustomed to structure during the other nine months of the year. It is a good idea to plan their vacation months. The structure will be there, just much more flexible and adaptable to the needs of the day. Let's look at some of your options for making summer a special time for both you and your children.
 
Young Children (ages 4-10)
 
Most schools offer summer sessions. Depending on its resources a school may offer all day sessions or just a long morning session running from approximately 9 until 1. If the school has had a summer session for several years, it probably has worked out most of the kinks. But keep an eye out for the quality of each activity. Is the school merely providing glorified babysitting or are the activities well-planned, well-organized and well-supervised by qualified personnel?
 

 
The advantage of sending a young child to a summer session at her school is that she knows just about everybody anyway. Even more important for your wee one is that the daily routine is similar to what she is already comfortable with. My biggest concern with summer sessions is the planning. Weather doesn't cooperate every day, so that refreshing time in the pool can't always be counted on. What's planned . . .read more
These are tough times for teachers. It doesn't matter whether you teach in a public or private school setting. You expose yourself to legal risks every single day on the job. 
 
So, let's look at liability from our point of view as teachers. (I am not an attorney, so read my general layperson's comments and observations then run questions by and seek advice from your attorney.) This mnemonic DIRE lays out some of the issues we need to watch for. Protecting yourself is so important. Nobody else will look out for your interests as well as you will.
 
Everyday risks
 
Your chances of getting sued are probably on a par with having an accident while driving. When you drive carefully, observe the rules of the road, stay alert and drive defensively, most of the time you will be OK. But, things happen for which you are not to blame. Like the time I came down one morning to get into my car to drive to work. Somebody had backed into the front end of my vehicle. Thank goodness I had insurance. Double thanks that the person who backed into my car left a note with her contact info and an apology together with a statement that her father would pay for the repairs.
 

 
On the other hand read Teacher In Hot Water For Taking Sick Student To Hospital, Footing The Bill  When it comes to students who are in our care and under our supervision . . .read more
I can remember when many schools raised their collective eyebrows at social media a few years ago. You could almost hearing them saying under their breath "Over my dead body!" That was probably because few people back then understood social media and what to do with it.
 
The way we used to market schools
 
Decades ago your beautiful school brochures and catalogs were the way you got the word out about your school and its mission. Those printed materials were expensive and time-consuming to produce. But that's all we had. Then along came the Internet. Schools built Web sites. Pretty basic ones at first. But as the technology advanced and professional graphic designers got their hands on those school Web sites, the result was a product just as elegant and compelling as any of those brochures and catalogs we used to have lithographed. While most schools still produce brochures and catalogs, most of these are done in house.
 
It seemed that you had barely got your Web site tweaked to dazzling perfection, replete with online applications, inquiries, video tours and all the bells and whistles 21st century Web designers could cram into them, when along came Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest. Social media was suddenly socially acceptable. Not only was it acceptable but it was absolutely essential to include it as part of your marketing strategy.
 
Let's look at social media and see how best to use it to promote your school and its mission. As I usually do, I am focusing on . . .read more
Why teach boys in a single sex setting? Aren't boys' schools archaic and out of touch? Aren't boys more likely to succeed in a coeducational setting? What are the advantages of educating boys in a single sex setting? The answers to these questions and many more are varied, contradictory and subjective. Furthermore the amount of research into boys' education is fairly limited. With those caveats in place let's explore some sources and resources for those special corners of the education world which are boys schools.

The research
 
A good starting point for our exploration of boys' schools is the IBSC. Just like the National Coalition of Girls' Schools is one of the major umbrella organizations for girls' schools, so the International Boys' Schools Coalition is one of the major umbrella organizations for boys' schools around the globe. It champions boys' schools. It encourages research on the education of boys. The IBSC terms its research papers Action Research Projects. Papers such as Teaching Boys at the Coal Face: Mining Key Pedagogical Approaches, Ready, Willing, and Able: Boys and Writing, Volumes I & II, Journeys into Masculinity, Positive Relationships, Positive Learning, Boys and Digital Literacy and Boys and Reading give you and me valuable insights into teaching boys. As you read these papers you begin to realize that the secret to boys' schools is that they are appropriate for many young men. Not all young men. But many. Boys' schools offer an approach to learning and character . . .read more
Despite your best efforts, in depth interviews and hours of due diligence you begin to realize that the school which you thought was so perfect for your preschooler is in fact the wrong one. So, what do you do when things don't work out?
 
I have just been through this stressful situation with one of my grandchildren. (I won't mention which school or name names out of professional courtesy.) It was a gut-wrenching experience for my daughter and son-in-law just as it would be for any set of concerned parents.
 
The warning signs

The warning signs of a bad fit are simple to detect: your child is unhappy. She comes home from school in tears or frustrated or both. She doesn't look forward to going to school in the morning. The last thing any parent wants is a four year old who doesn't want to go to school.
 
Red flags by rvw, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  rvw 

You won't necessarily notice that something is wrong. There probably won't be a big blow up at school.  What's more likely to happen is a series of little events over a period of several weeks, perhaps even months. An isolated incident of unhappiness is nothing to be worried about. . . .read more
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